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review 2020-08-27 07:25
Candide and Other Stories by Voltaire
Candide and Other Stories - Voltaire

TITLE:  Candide and Other Stories

 

AUTHOR:  Voltaire

 

TRANSLATOR:  Roger Pearson

 

EDITION:  Oxford World's Classics

 

ISBN-13:  9780199535613

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DESCRIPTION:

"Candide is the most famous of Voltaire's "philosophical tales," in which he combined witty improbabilities with the sanest of good sense. First published in 1759, it was an instant bestseller and has come to be regarded as one of the key texts of the Enlightenment. What Candide does for chivalric romance, the other tales in this selection--Micromegas, Zadig, The Ingenu, and The White Bull--do for science fiction, the Oriental tale, the sentimental novel, and the Old Testament. The most extensive one-volume selection currently available, this new edition includes a new verse translation of the story Voltaire based on Chaucer's The Wife of Bath's Tale: What Pleases the Ladies and opens with a revised introduction that reflects recent critical debates, including a new section on Candide."

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REVIEW:

 

I enjoyed the poem "What Pleases the Ladies?" and the short stories "Micromegas" and "The White Bull", but "Candide", "Zadig" and "The Ingenu" I found to be a bit tedious and long winded even though they weren't all that long. Unfortunately, world classics don't seem to appeal to me much. I can't say how accurate the translation is but it flows nicely without being clunky.  The notes at the back are helpful.  I just wish they would stick the damn notes at the bottom of the relevant page instead of making the reading flip to the back all the time.

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review 2020-07-13 09:08
Animal Farm by George Orwell
Animal Farm - George Orwell

TITLE: Animal Farm: A Fairy Tale

 

AUTHOR: George Orwell

 

PUBLICATION DATE: 2018 (originally 1945)

 

EDITION: Penguin English Library

 

ISBN-13: 9780241341667

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DESCRIPTION:

"'All animals are equal - but some are more equal than others.' When the downtrodden animals of Manor Farm overthrow their master Mr Jones and take over the farm themselves, they imagine it is the beginning of a life of freedom and equality. But gradually a cunning, ruthless élite among them, masterminded by the pigs Napoleon and Snowball, starts to take control. Soon the other animals discover that they are not all as equal as they thought, and find themselves hopelessly ensnared as one form of tyranny is replaced with another."

 

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REVIEW:

 

You may call this a political or social commentary, a satire, an allegory, a moral story, or a combination of a whole lot of other things. The novella is still relevant today and should be a warning to the general public to think for themselves and question everything, instead of dully going along with the approved narrative (whatever it is). At the end of the day, this is a short and witty observation of animal human nature.

 

PS: This is not a children's book. The book is better if the reader has some knowledge of history and adult concerns (i.e. putting food on the table, economy in general and politics).

 

 And just because:

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review 2020-06-25 14:12
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

TITLE:  Great Expectations

 

AUTHOR:  Charles Dickens

 

PUBLICATION: Penguin Classics Edition [ISBN: 9780141439563]

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DESCRIPTION:

 "Dickens's magnificent novel of guilt, desire, and redemption
The orphan Pip’s terrifying encounter with an escaped convict on the Kent marshes, and his mysterious summons to the house of Miss Havisham and her cold, beautiful ward Estella, form the prelude to his “great expectations.” How Pip comes into a fortune, what he does with it, and what he discovers through his secret benefactor are the ingredients of his struggle for moral redemption.
"

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REVIEW:

 

Definitely better than I expected.  Not long winded at all.  The "peasant dialect" is a bit hard to understand though.  A typical coming of age story.  I love Wemmick.  Too bad Dickens didn't write more about Wemmick.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-06-08 10:53
The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings (Signet Classics) - Elisabeth Krimmer,Catherine Hutter,Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,Marcelle Clements

TITLE:  The Sorrows of Young Werther and Selected Writings

 

AUTHOR:  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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DESCRIPTION:

 

The Sorrows of Young Werther (German: Die Leiden des jungen Werthers) is a loosely autobiographical epistolary novel by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.  First published in 1774, it reappeared as a revised edition in 1787.  It was one of the most important novels in the Sturm und Drang period in German literature, and influenced the later Romantic movement.  Goethe, aged 24 at the time, finished Werther in five-and-a-half weeks of intensive writing in January–March 1774. The book's publication instantly placed the author among the foremost international literary celebrities, and was among the best known of his works.  This classically tragic story is one of unrequited love. 

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REVIEW:

 

I was expecting a romance novel stuffed full of sentimental drivel. And there was a lot of maudlin fluff, but also a bit of philosophy and psychological drama, which is heightened by the epistolary format. Werther has a rather "interesting" method of revenge (if you can call it that), if nothing else. There were also interesting insights into 18th century German life, especially for that rising class of people between the peasants and the nobility. The writing was so descriptively poetic and beautiful, especially when it comes to describing nature. I'm quite happy to put up with Werther's self-indulgent saccharine thoughts just to read Goethe go on about cabbages and trees. I liked this book a great deal more than most of the novels by Jane Austen.

 

The Signet edition comes with other writing relating to the Sorrows of Young Werther, as well as two charming fairy tales written by Goethe, and an introduction that summarizes the influence of this novel on literate public at the time and literature in general.

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review SPOILER ALERT! 2020-06-03 11:00
Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula
Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula - Bram Stoker,Hans De Roos

TITLE:  Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

 

AUTHOR:  Bram Stoker

 

ADAPTED BY:  Valdimar Ásmundsson

 

TRANSLATED BY:  Hans De Roos
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DESCRIPTION:


"Powers of Darkness is an incredible literary discovery: In 1900, Icelandic publisher and writer Valdimar Ásmundsson set out to translate Bram Stoker’s world-famous 1897 novel Dracula. Called Makt Myrkranna (literally, “Powers of Darkness”), this Icelandic edition included an original preface written by Stoker himself. Makt Myrkranna was published in Iceland in 1901 but remained undiscovered outside of the country until 1986, when Dracula scholarship was astonished by the discovery of Stoker’s preface to the book. However, no one looked beyond the preface and deeper into Ásmundsson’s story.

In 2014, literary researcher Hans de Roos dove into the full text of Makt Myrkranna, only to discover that Ásmundsson hadn’t merely translated Dracula but had penned an entirely new version of the story, with all new characters and a totally re-worked plot. The resulting narrative is one that is shorter, punchier, more erotic, and perhaps even more suspenseful than Stoker’s Dracula. Incredibly, Makt Myrkranna has never been translated or even read outside of Iceland until now.

Powers of Darkness presents the first ever translation into English of Stoker and Ásmundsson’s Makt Myrkranna. With marginal annotations by de Roos providing readers with fascinating historical, cultural, and literary context; a foreword by Dacre Stoker, Bram Stoker’s great-grandnephew and bestselling author; and an afterword by Dracula scholar John Edgar Browning, Powers of Darkness will amaze and entertain legions of fans of Gothic literature, horror, and vampire fiction."

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REVIEW:

 

I loved the expanded and somewhat altered version of the events that transpire in Count Dracula's castle (more atmospheric, creepier, Dracula's female house guest gets more page time), but the London chapters came across as a hurried and truncated (compared to the original version) plot summary and were rather disappointing.  This lost version was, however, still entertaining.

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